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Russia Backs Down From Threat To Ban Twitter, But Will Slow It Until Mid-May

Russia's state communications regulator has backed down from banning Twitter amid a dispute over content on its platform.

However, it said on April 5 that it will continue to slow the speed of the U.S. social network inside the country until the middle of May.

Russia has been engaged in a fight with U.S. social media, including Twitter, over content it deems prohibited, such as calls to join political protests.

Russian critics of the Kremlin use social networks, including Twitter and YouTube, to get around state control of the media and reach tens of millions of citizens with their anti-government messages.

A Russian court on April 2 levied a nearly $120,000 fine against Twitter for posts related to anti-government protests in January.

The Russian regulator has also focused its complaints against Twitter over the network's apparent failure to remove child pornography as well as content encouraging drug use and suicide among children.

Twitter said it had a zero-tolerance policy regarding child pornography and other content deemed harmful.

Roskomnadzor began slowing the speed of traffic on Twitter last month as a response to what it called Twitter's refusal to remove content it deemed impermissible. It threatened to ban the network if it did not comply.

In its April 5 statement, the regulator said it would not ban Twitter yet after it claimed the platform took down 1,900 of 3,100 posts with banned content.

Rokomnadzor said Twitter had sped up the removal of content following a Russian request to 81 hours. However, that is still below the 24-hour time limit stated in the law.

Twitter said in a statement that it had been in contact with Roskomnazdor but did not confirm it had taken down 1,900 posts.

"It was a productive discussion about how we can both work to ensure that reports of such illegal content are dealt with expeditiously," Twitter said.

Russia's efforts to tighten control of the Internet and social media date back to 2012, shortly after the largest anti-government protests in years.

Since then, a growing number of restrictions targeting messaging apps, websites, and social media have been introduced in Russia.

With reporting by AP and dpa
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